Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2016 Issue

Stolen Comics Recovered When Thief Attempts to Sell Them

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The Fantastic Four fighting crime, like comic book theft.

The rare book trade has an extensive system in place to locate stolen books when the thief attempts to sell them. Organizations such as America's ABAA and similar groups overseas provide information about thefts and databases of stolen books for which to be on the lookout. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association does the same. Recently, England's ABA, along with one of its members, participated in identifying books stolen from the London Library over half a century ago (see other article in this month's Rare Book Monthly). The comic book field does not have such an extensive organization in place. Nonetheless, through the Vancouver Police Department, a notice went out to shops selling collectibles in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area, to look for some stolen comics. Eleven days later, most were recovered when the thief attempted to sell them to a local shop.

 

According to the Vancouver Police Department, someone broke into a 100-pound safe in an East Vancouver home around noon on October 17. They walked out with a handful of comics. The pièce de résistance among them was issue number 1 of The Fantastic Four. For those unfamiliar with the Fantastic Four, they are The Thing, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, and Invisible Girl. My guess is these are all fictional characters. This first issue was released for November 1961. It sold for 10 cents at the time. Apparently, a copy in pristine condition can go for over half a million dollars today. Remember how our parents told us to stop wasting our money on comics and put it in the bank? You'll earn 3% interest? I think this returned 10,000,000% per annum (uncompounded), but perhaps I got the number of zeros wrong. There are so many. So, who do you think was smarter now?

 

However, this is not a copy on that level. Still, it is estimated at around $20,000. All of the comics together were estimated to be worth about $35,000.

 

Eleven days later, the police reported someone walked into a collectibles shop with the first issue of The Fantastic Four and some of the other comics. The shop owner had been among those notified by police to be on the lookout and immediately recognized what was being offered. These days, most people running a comic book shop would automatically be suspicious about someone walking in off the street with such a valuable item. It is like walking into a bookshop with a First Folio. Red flags go up. It is not clear whether this shop was familiar with the Fantastic Four or was solely relying on the police notice, but whichever, the owner quickly secured the comics and called the police. The suspect fled. The police were still looking for him at last report, and some of the comics are still missing, but the most valuable ones have been safely returned.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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